Date: 7/5/18 10:01 pm From: David Suddjian <dsuddjian...> Subject: [cobirds] Common Poorwill nest at Ken Caryl Ranch July 3-5
I've been following *Common Poorwill* activity at Ken Caryl Ranch this year
(*no open public access, but see below for DFO field trip info*), visiting
four survey areas at intervals. Successive visits to one area in May each
had courtship activity and displays between a pair of poorwills. Habitat
conditions seemed prime right where I observed the interactions of the
pair, in this case foothill grassland with patches of Gambel oak, mountain
mahogany and three-leaved sumac, with boulders, small rock outcrops, and
areas of exposed earth at erosion sites.
Still, it was by chance on the evening of July 3, that I found a Common
Poorwill nest as I flushed a bird from its scrape where it had been
incubating two eggs. (photo below), in the very area where I had observed
displays in May. The adult flushed and landed nearby, and I kept my stay
near the nest short. It was near sunset, and I moved away from the nest and
waited until the period when poorwills would be calling. None called around
the nest vicinity during the main calling period of the evening. The nest
is situated at the north edge of a cluster of mountain mahogany and Gambel
oak, amid sparse grasses, small rocks and fallen leaves.
I returned on the evening of July 4, while the smokey evening sun was still
shining on the nest. I was able to find an observation point removed from
the nest where I could view with my scope while not disturbing the bird. In
the photo below, the poorwill is at the center of the image, facing left.
The bright green grass blades just below and left of center are directly in
front of the bird's bill and breast. The highest point of the bird is its
crown, which is mottled, and then the darker face below with the eye just
barely open -- it seemed to be aware of my presence, but made no sign of
As it turns out I had a DFO field trip already scheduled for tonight July
5, which was an evening outing with poorwill as one of our focal birds! It
seems DFO is often in the right place at the right time, and we were able
to visit the nest area, and view in a way that did not disturb the bird. We
kept our stay short and most of the group remained out of view of the nest
when not viewing.
This is just the 2nd poorwill nest I've ever found, the other years being
ago in coastal California. That was "just" eggs in a remote area that I
could not easily get back to. So I am really looking forward to seeing this
nest progress to baby poorwills. Preventing disturbance remains a primary
I am scheduling another DFO field trip for the evening of *July 12* to
offer an opportunity to view this nest site, and will post when it is
available for registration. *Ken Caryl Ranch is private, and the open space
areas of the Ranch are private.* I can offer these outings as a resident.
I also have a previously-scheduled morning trip on *July 16*, and if the
nest is still active we will view it then. There may be a space yet open on
that trip, or often a few waiting list folks move up to the main list, so
it is worth going on the waiting list.